No matter what your vacation style, local travel advisers can help you plan your ideal itinerary.
This story first appeared in the Spring/Summer 2020 issue of Columbus Weddings, published December 2019.
With the hustle and bustle of wedding-planning taking center stage during your engagement, it’s easy to understand how the honeymoon can fall by the wayside. And with the rise of the mini-moon—that short trip immediately after the wedding, usually to a nearby or inexpensive destination—to supplement a grander honeymoon down the road, planning for a honeymoon feels less urgent than ever before.
But with the help of a travel adviser (as many travel agents now call themselves), you can have your cake and eat it, too—or rather, have your trip and no planning, too.
The biggest mistake that couples make, says Nicole LaMar of Cruise Planners, is assuming that a travel adviser will cost more than DIY planning.Like what you’re reading? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.
“We get all our commission from the travel companies,” LaMar says, adding that those strong partnerships often translate into better prices for the client. “We have access to deals that don’t go to the public.” Not to mention the additional expertise that travel advisers have to offer: While you may have never planned a trip to Croatia or Antigua or Kenya, a travel adviser likely has done it dozens or even hundreds of times.
“[You get] our expertise and guidance and doing the legwork of creating the package—you can dump all that into [our] hands,” LaMar says. “Especially when you’re planning a wedding—you don’t have time to do all that legwork.”
Any reputable travel adviser will begin by asking you and your betrothed what activities and destinations are important to include in your trip, as well as when you plan to travel and other key details. From there, he or she will start creating your dream honeymoon. Below are a few ideas for travel spots to get your gears turning.
“Costa Rica is a really big one; a lot of my adventure [clients] have been going out there,” says Leslie Sobnosky of Wanderlust Travel & Tours. There, newlyweds will find beaucoup to do: hike Arenal Volcano, one of the world’s most active (though it’s been largely inactive since 2010); search for jaguars and howler monkeys at one of the many national parks and wildlife preserves; or take a zip line or sky bridge through the forest.
While LaMar is quick to second Costa Rica as a daredevil destination, she also notes that the west side of Mexico can be an ideal trip as well. “You get more mountain ranges over there,” she explains, suggesting the resorts around Puerto Vallarta as excellent home bases.
Sobnosky also frequently sends clients on adventure tours in such exotic locales as Cinque Terre, Italy; South Africa; and Machu Picchu, Peru. But trips to the great outdoors needn’t all be to warm-weather destinations.
“I actually would recommend Alaska [for hiking], especially if they are traveling in the summertime. … It’s absolutely gorgeous,” Sobnosky says. “Then, if they do a land-and-sea [cruise], they get that mixture between relaxation with a drink poolside, as well as going out and doing some more adventure kind of travel activities, too.”
Maybe your idea of exploration involves more concrete and glass than mountains and grass. If that’s the case, LaMar recommends setting your sights on Europe. “There are a lot of European cities where you can do a guided tour, where you have three days in one city, three days in another,” she notes, adding that Barcelona and Rome are two of her most-requested cities.
“Paris is always really popular,” adds Sobnosky. “Prague is growing in popularity a lot, for its architecture, good food and good beer. … Even Ireland would be a great option, because you get a lot of really good scenery, but a lot of good culture, too. You can go do distilleries and that sort of thing.”
Not a fan of the transatlantic flight? Not a problem, says Sobnosky.
“Another place I like that’s kind of nearby, but also has some really cool stuff, is Montreal, Canada. You kind of get the feel for Paris, but you don’t have to travel that far. There’s some amazing food, drinks, shopping.”
The quintessential honeymoon trip is a classic for a reason. What better way to celebrate your marriage (and the culmination of months of planning) than with your toes in the sand and an icy beverage in hand? To that end, Sobnosky recommends the overwater bungalows at the adults-only El Dorado Maroma resort in Riviera Maya, Mexico, as well some of the Sandals resorts in the Caribbean. If you’d rather venture farther from home, she suggests Phuket or Chiang Mai in Thailand, or heading to the Mediterranean for Croatia or the Greek Isles.
Mexico in general is a popular beach destination, but LaMar again urges couples to look beyond East Coast cities like Cancun and Riviera Maya. West Coast cities like La Paz, Los Cabos, Sayulita and Cabo San Lucas can often be found on Mexico’s must-visit lists.
Whether you’re saving money for a future purchase, like a home, or just want to let your wallet recover from the spending spree that is wedding-planning, there are plenty of budget-friendly trips to consider, says LaMar.
“National parks are certainly increasing [in popularity],” she says. “A long weekend in a national park is fun if they’re a more adventurous, outdoorsy type. … [If not], there’s a lot of great lodges and bus tours, things where you don’t have to be super active or camping.”
LaMar also notes that a three-day trip to a beach resort in Florida, for example, could be more cost-effective than visiting a similar property in Mexico or the Caribbean.
Even a long weekend at a nearby property, like one of northern Ohio’s wineries, can feel like a luxurious escape. The Lodge at Geneva-on-the-Lake, for example, offers cozy cottages or more traditional guest rooms in its main building and a variety of activities, from a wine country shuttle to snowshoeing and more.
Living in Luxury
Of course, there are some for whom money is no object. In those cases, Sobnosky has one directive: Go big, or go home.
“I would look at doing Tahiti or Fiji or New Zealand/Australia,” she says. “Those are going to be your big-ticket, once-in-a-lifetime kind of destinations where you would go for a longer duration because it takes forever to get to those destinations … [and] they’re gorgeous; there’s a million things to do.” Another unique idea she suggests would be an African safari or other adventure in South Africa, Kenya or Tanzania.